Ghana 1-3 Mali (As it happened; play by play)

 

                                         GHANA 1-3 MALI

Mali secure a third-place finish at the Africa Cup of Nations for a second successive year with a physical, effective performance to edge Ghana. The Black Stars had a frustrating tournament summed up tonight as they were badly let down by defensive errors and small lapses in concentration that were ruthlessly punished

FULL-TIME Ghana 1-3 Mali

90+5‘: Ghana throw everything forward for the final time and get caught again on the counter. Sigamary Diarra reads a lofted pass and buries a pure volley into the bottom corner to put the match beyond doubt.

90+4‘: GOAL! Ghana 1-3 Mali (Diarra)

90+2‘: YELLOW CARD! Ghana win two corners in quick succession and from the second delivery Asante controls before throwing himself to the ground. Luckily the referee has seen the awful attempt to win a penalty and rightly books the diminutive winger.

90‘: SAVE! Admoah meets Boateng’s cross with a looping header but a weak contact presents little danger to Diakite, who makes a confidence-boosting catch.

88‘: Ghana win a free kick in the final third and Wakaso has a packed penalty area to choose from. After a lengthy delay his delivery is hugely disappointing and fails to beat the first man. Just a reminder that if Ghana were to equalise we would go straight to a penalty shootout.

86‘: Mali looked in complete control but must now protect their struggling keeper to close out the match. Ghana to their credit have kept attacking and their efforts have finally been rewarded with a fortunate goal.

84′: Out of almost nowhere Kwadwo Asamoah has handed Ghana a late lifeline. The Juventus playmaker hit a speculative shot from range which Diakite completely misread and allowed to swerve into an empty net with a late dive the wrong way. Game on!

82: GOAL! Ghana 1-2 Mali (Asamoah)

80: Despite trailing 2-0 Ghana have continued to try and play their way through a stern Mali defence. The Eagles have been at their powerful and efficient best tonight and taken full advantage of some poor defending to build their strong advantage.

78: SUBSTITUTION: Mali have made their first change of the evening, replacing the opening goalscorer Samassa for Diarra.

76: SUBSTITUTION: Asamoah Gyan’s miserable tournament is over as he is replaced by Emmnauel Clottey.

74: Diakite gets very lucky after the Mali keeper spills Adomah’s first cross. The ball slips out of Gyan’s grasp like a bar of soap before eventually returning to the grateful hands of Diakite.

72′: SUBSTITUTION: Ghana finally introduce the pace of Adomah as the Bristol City winger comes on in place of Atsu.

70‘: SAVE! From the resulting free kick Keita sends in a dangerous cross which is heading under the post before a crucial late punch from Dauda kept it out at the last moment.

68‘: Gyan tests Diakite with a free kick but the Mali keeper is down quickly to make a low save at his near posr. Mali break quickly and win a dangerous set-piece of their own thanks to Boateng’s wild late lunge.

66‘: Both teams are flying into tackles all over the pitch now, you would not know this is a third place play-off from the aggressive attitude being displayed by the two sides.

63‘: The Black Stars are continuing to pour forward in numbers but look vulnerable on the counter. Asante drives down the right again and draws a free kick in the final third from a foul by Samassa.

60′: MISS! Justice has been done as Ghana’s horrendous penalty record continues. Mubarak Wakaso stepped up but sent his effort both high and wide of the target with a horrible miscue and this definitely looks to be Mali’s day now. Another replay of the decision makes any case for a spot kick look weak with minimal contact with the top of Coulibaly’s arm.

58′: PENALTY! Ghana have a lifeline thanks to a dubious award of a spot kick from the referee. Coulibaly has been penalised for a handball which looks to be very harsh at first glance.

56‘: Asante is the latest player to be wasteful for Ghana in the final third. The winger drives at pace into the penalty area but his final touch is too heavy and allows Tamboura to clear for a corner.

53‘: The Black Stars attempt a quick response but Atsu is caught in two minds and ends up a dragging a rash strike over the bar from 20 yards out.

50‘: Ghana throw players forward for a free kick and are horribly exposed on the counter. A sweeping break sees Mali get numbers in the box and despite Boye’s desperate lunge Keita has time to tuck home a curling finish from close range. That strike is a fitting way for the Mali skipper to exit the Cup of Nations after a largely excellent tournament.

48′: GOAL! Ghana 0-2 Mali (Keita)

46′: YELLOW CARD! Play has been back underway less than 60 seconds and Tamboura is booked for a cynical kick on Asante.

HALF-TIME Ghana 0-1 Mali

45‘: CHANCE! Diabate should have just made the game safe for Mali from close range. He did brilliantly to control a diagonal ball on his chest but lacked composure with the finish and drove over the crossbar from eight yards.

42‘: OFF THE POST! Samassa comes within inches of doubling his tally after beating Dauda in a race to reach a long ball forward. His contact his minimal but drifts towards the goal before clipping the near post and bouncing wide of the target. Ghana completely lost concentration at the back for a second time then and were within inches of being punished for a second time.

39‘: A tetchy period in the match brings up the 15th foul in under 40 minutes. Boye is the latest player to need treatment after falling at an awkward angle under pressure from Diabate.

36‘: Ghana have pushed higher to press Mali and look most threatening down the right through Asante and Atsu. Asante drives into a dangerous but goes to ground looking for a free kick which does not come but Ghana will settle for a corner.

33’: YELLOW CARD! Vorsah joins Wakaso on a booking for a wild tackle on Diabate which has the powerful forward down in some discomfort.

30′: CHANCE! Wakaso is quickly involved again as his fierce volley from distance forces a strong save from Diakite. Ghana are enjoyed a bright spell but still trail after falling asleep to let Samassa break the deadlock with a diving header.

24 minAsamoah has a chance to respond less than a minute later for the visitors but gets his volley all wrong from close range. His shot takes a deflection and from the resulting corner Asamoah again lashes wide from a tight angle. Two quick chances to respond go begging for The Black Stars.
21 minmin Mahamadou Samassa breaks the deadlock with a brilliant diving header but to describe Ghana’s defending as non-existent would be an understatement. The Mali forward has time and space to pick his spot and put the Yellows ahead and in pole position to retain the bronze medal.
19 minGOAL! Ghana 0-1 Mali (Samassa)
16 minAfful breaks down the right for Ghana and and combines with Asante to deliver a cross into the danger zone. Gyan is waiting to pounce but Mali do just enough to clear their lines. The Black Stars are settling into a nice rhythm on the ball and look more likely to break the deadlock at this stage.
13 minThe game has started at a frantic pace which bodes well for what can sometimes be a frustrating dead rubber. Mali and Ghana contested this tie in last season’s tournament and there is no love lost between the two sides judging from the early stages.

 

10 minSHOT! Samassa drives forward and tries to catch out Dauda in the Ghana goal with a low shot aimed towards the near post. The stopper reads it and dives in plenty of time to make a routine save

 

8 minMali put together their best move of the match which results in Traore lining up a volley around 30 yards from goal. He has time and space but can only launch a wayward drive which goes well wide of the target.

 

6 minGyan has an effort from range and tests the keeper but the strike is tame and only requires a simple save

 

4 minBoateng bursts forward and hits the touchline at speed before cutting back to Gyan. His pass looks destined to find Asamoah before a brilliant late interception from Keita, who must have travelled 30 yards to cut out that through ball.

 

2 minGhana get us underway in a rematch from not only this competiton’s group stage but last year’s bronze-medal clash. Mali have started with two strikers for the first time in the tournament in an effort to restore pride and avenge their 1-0 defeat to the Black Stars last week.
By Cup of Nations standards tonight’s stadium is relatively full but attendances have definitely been a disappointment in South Africa throughout the tournament
Credit: Sportsmole

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